Vive v. Rift which is better and what the VR/AR industry need to enter the mass market and become mainstream tech.
VRMA Virtual Reality Media, Article by Micah Blumberg on July 7th, 2017 http://VRMA.work and http://VRMA.io email firstname.lastname@example.org
I’m a VR journalist who has owned a Rift, Vive and Hololens for longer than most people on this planet and I’m going to answer the question about which is better the Rift or the Vive (in my humble opinion), but then I’m also going to talk about what changes we need to make to Virtual Reality software and hardware in order for VR and AR to become a mainstream mass market adopted item.
I’ve owned both the Vive and the Rift for longer than most people, because I am a VR journalist and I do developer work on the side for friends of mine, helping them to get their apps upgraded to the latest VR and AR platforms. The Vive really succeeds if you have a dedicated space for room scale, such as a ten by ten area (or larger) that doesn’t have a lot of ambient light (outside light) or other things that might interfere with tracking such as cameras. Vive’s room scale tracking can be a superior experience, but its not that much better, I think that Vive will leap beyond the Rift if and when I get a TPcast for the Vive that means a wireless headset, and it may leap further beyond the Rift when it has inside out tracking (world scale) and augmented reality and house scale (the next generation of Vive/SteamVR Lighthouse Tracking 2.0 can have an unlimited amount of Vive trackers that you can put all over your house or arcade area if you have a business.
Right now though, even though I regard the Oculus as having only slightly inferior tracking with two cameras I still use my Oculus Rift more, and the reason is that it’s more portable, I velcro the two tracking cameras to my laptop, and then turn any hotel room, or any room period, even with ambient outdoor light, into a trackable space for VR.
It is annoying that I can’t seem to access Steam VR from inside the Oculus Play store, and I sincerely hope they fix that in the future, and I am really hoping that Vive/Steam Lighthouse Tracking 2.0, with it’s signatured tracking signals, will overcome the problem of interfering light sources making the HTC Vive essentially as portable as the Rift.
Right now the screen resolution on both the Vive and the Rift totally sucks and as such I’m hoping that Steam VR and Windows Holographic are both enabled on the 4K ODG R9 Glasses available later this year, and I am seriously hoping that both Vive and Rift integrate something like 2k per eye in the next generation of headwear at the very least because the resolution I think is just part of the reason VR still gives people headaches, I hope we get headsets that go way above 120Hz in terms of screen refreshing capability. I know that Nvidia has shown off a screen refresh rate of 1700hz, which would vastly exceed the capability of current VR capable desktop computers but with eye tracking and foveated rendering we should be able to significantly cut down on the cost of rendering extremely high resolution images at extremely high frame rates.
So for me, the Rift and Vive are both so similar that I think any person would be happy with either one, they are not different enough, not now, but I am hopefully that next generation products from both companies will vastly exceed the things about each that are uncomfortable, both headsets are too big and heavy for mass market adoption considering their price, considering their low resolution, considering the computing muscle needed for a great experience, considering the technical errors each have in trying to get them installed, considering the amount of mental investment it takes to get the right computer and to get the right computer set up properly, considering all the trouble shooting, none of that stuff adds up to a product that is ready for the mass market.
Although a good contrary example would be how the original 8 bit Nintendo involved cartridges that failed to load frequently such that people would blow on their cartridges (myth) to clear the dust before reinserting them into the Nintendo to hopefully have the game load the next time. Nintendo became a mass market product despite being a flawed product that often failed to load the game on the first, second, third, fourth, and fifth try.
What it will take for Vive and Rift to become mass market items is a number of small changes, lighter weight headsets, higher resolution screens, higher screen refresh rates, no wires, roomscale, house scale, and inside out tracking for world scale, built in external cameras for augmented reality apps that incorporate the real world, eye tracking and pupil dilation tracking for affective computing, to predict intention at the interface level, EEG, EMG, ECG sensors built into the headset or bluetooth to a heart rate monitoring watch to do affective computing to predict emotion and intention at the UI level, foveated rendering and other hardware tricks to lower the performance requirements of the computer that power them.
I would like the all in one headsets to have built in chipsets that are AT LEAST as powerful as a GTX 1080 or higher without that performance throttling transformer that is in the laptop versions of GTX 1080 (which is major BS)
The new Vive controllers that grip your hands look great, the new Vive/Steam Lighthouse Tracking 2.0 sounds great and will make for excellent community VR arcades, and the new wireless headsets from Vive and Oculus that feature inside out tracking and will run not only Steam VR but also Windows Holographic (Hololens) look great as well.
These headsets need to compete with new Mixed Reality headsets from all the Microsoft PC OEM partners such as Acer, Asus, HP, Lenovo, LG, etc…
The VR market is going to get crowded and people will demand an experience that is equal to the Vive including motion controllers but in a 300 dollar headset (300 plus a VR capable computer which shouldn’t cost more than 500)
Personally I’m hoping the high res ODG R8 will cost 700 dollars (they have pledged that it will cost less than 1000) because I think at 700 dollars you are hitting the mass market point. I’m hoping that the ODG R8 will stream Steam VR games and also Windows Holographic Mixed Reality applications, but we will see.
Bottomline which is better? Neither really, but if you don’t have a system get the Oculus Rift but buy your apps on Steam VR only. Both are great but neither is good enough for the mass market yet. You should get either one, so you, your family and friends and commuunity can experience VR now, but also realize that the next generation of VR and AR coming in 2018 is going to be where it’s at. I would say get the cheapest possible VR Ready PC and the Cheapest possible headset (Oculus) and then plan to spend the bulk of your money on a next generation AR VR headset upgrade next year.
I think Steam VR is the best app store and right now the Vive has slightly better tracking if you have a room with 10x10 feet of space. 8x8 isn’t really enough for many apps in my experience. Vive is going to cost more, and if you want wireless it will cost even more, and if you want the new headset strap (hard headset strap for more comfort) it will cost even more, and if you want the new controllers it will cost even more. It might be prudent to wait until after the Steam VR is updated to include the new Vive/SteamVR Lighthouse Tracking 2.0 (because it won’t be backwards compatible) and by then it might include the new Steam hand gripping controllers as well as the refined headset strap and the wireless headset transmitter/receiver.
If you are short on funds in general then perhaps you should wait on getting the Vive, wait until after Acer and other PC companies release their Mixed Reality headsets, because that competition might lower the cost of entry into the VR space.
In the meantime, you can save a little bit of money by getting the slightly more portable Oculus Rift, which won’t have a wireless option in the future, but it does seem to work more easily from a laptop when you are traveling. You can unscrew the camera trackers from the camera stands and make your own lighter weight camera stands that you can velcro to your laptop if you want, like I did. Its fine to do that, but I would not invest in Oculus Apps, because the Steam VR store apps will work on more VR platforms in the future, so that if later on in 2017 you decide to get an Acer or an ODG AR/VR headset you are more likely to be able to run your Steam VR apps on it than you are likely to run your Oculus apps on it. It’s best to avoid purchasing apps from Oculus and to avoid purchasing apps from Viveport for this reason, get your apps from Steam VR.
I have often said, and I believe, that if you don’t have either a Rift, Vive, or a Hololens then you are in a sense like a person who doesn’t have a computer.
These devices are like the next generation of computing really, not having one of these devices means you are missing out on a new paradigm of computation.
What all these devices are missing however is a lot of serious in depth non-gaming productivity apps.
They are missing VR mindmaps, 3D VR spreadsheets, 3D project planners, 3D video editors, 3D animation tools, 3D versions of windows and mac that let you use all the apps in your computer in AR and VR.
They are missing a tool that would let you basically have a TV in AR and VR that you can send your phone to, like ChromeCast or Apple TV, it doesn’t make any sense why I can’t send my IOS screen into VR in exactly the same way I can send my IOS screen to any Apple TV, it makes no sense why this tool is missing.
There is a large quantity of missing productivity tools, missing organization tools, missing data visualization tools, missing social networking tools, where is my 3D facebook, my 3D twitter, my 3D instagram, there are social apps, like Facebook Spaces, that integrate with Facebook, but it’s not enough. I should mention that at AWE2017 Meron the CEO of Meta unveiled a 3D Mind Map tool for the Meta 2 AR System that looks totally dope. I think that Meta is focused on getting your entire PC into AR in a way that no other company is really totally focused on, with Microsoft perhaps being in second place with that focus after Meta (In terms of bringing the whole PC experience into a headset. As a journalist I really want a 3D file system so I can sort all my pictures, videos, audio interviews, and even have an AI assistant that can handle voice searches of my pictures, video and audio in 3D. I want the ability to organize my entire file system like a mindmap, or just draw links between file types and even edit the audio and video inside the mindmap/file manager. Why doesn’t this tool exist on two dimensional operating systems? You can make big dollars by building the app I am describing I am giving the idea away because I want someone to make it!
Where are my world building tools?
Unreal Engine and Unity have VR apps that let you have access to the entire UE4 engine or the entire Unity Game engine from inside VR, so you can do world building inside VR, but why isn’t MMO Massive Multiplayer Online Collaboration built into the EditorVR tools from Unity and UE4? Where is the tool from Mozilla and Chrome that lets you build Web VR and Web AR from inside VR? Why is it that none of these tools have MMO Massive Multiplayer Online collaboration for worldbuilding so that I can bring in 200 people simultaneously into Chrome, Mozilla, Unity, or Unreal Engine to build a VR world together, simultaneously, all in the same space. We can see that JanusVR, Altspace, High Fidelity, and Sansar are all using either UDP User Datagram Protocol or their own custom version of UDP to enable MMO (Massive Multiplayer Online) collaborations to build game worlds, but the problem then is that your stuff is stuck with the brand of that company (except for JanusVR), it doesn’t run inside any web browser or as a stand alone white label app that people can download in a VR or AR app store, so that is where there is an opportunity for a company to come in an provide this product that no one is providing yet. (Correction: JanusVR builds can run in a Web Browser without the JanusVR branding according to a friend of mine who works on the JanusVR project)
There are VR mapping projects like Google Earth VR, and EEGEO which is now called
that provide a baseline entry point for the Oasis from Ready Player One, we want to be able to create worlds together. None of the things I’m talking about are currently available and so I hope my article will spur a goldrush for companies to create the things that we are missing in Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality.
These are the ways that VR/AR will change before it becomes a mass market item.
VERDICT: Get the Rift, but buy your VR Apps on Steam VR to be future proof. Get the cheapest VR PC to save your dollars for next generation Mixed Reality headsets in 2018. At the end of 2017 I predict that most wanted AR VR product will be the ODG R8, based on having tried it out several times at CES, and at ODG’s headquarters, it’s a really awesome piece of kit. Although I suspect that Meta may surprise us with the release of a lightfield Meta 3 device in late 2017 or early 2018 that will blow us away so keep an eye out for the Meta 3 to be announced later this year with a lightfield display.
About the author: Micah Blumberg is the host of the Neural Lace Podcast which can be found at http://VRMA.io and he is a VR Journalist at VRMA Virtual Reality Media http://vrma.work he is also a bio hacking researcher working on next generation brain computer interfaces (Neural Lace) and he is the founder of the facebook group “Self Aware Networks: Computational Biology: Neural Lace” and he admins a long list of large groups on facebook dedicated to cutting edge technology and cutting edge science.
Note: If HTC Vive cut the price to $675 US Dollars I would say get the Vive, because then it would be pretty close to the Oculus Rift with Touch and a third Camera but with slightly better position tracking. You would be losing the portability of the Rift, but gaining the upgrade-ability of being able to purchase a wireless adapter for it in the near future (TPcast). (There are numerous other upgrades for the Vive, but the new tracking system won’t be backwards compatible that’s why I’m a little bit shy about emphasizing those upgrades right now, until more of the details are confirmed.)